April 19, 2016

Grant Ledyard

A clever defender, the much travelled Grant Ledyard pretty much defines the term "journeyman defenseman."

Ledyard played in over 1000 NHL games despite wearing nine NHL uniforms, including two tenures with two teams. He relied on veteran savvy and poise to remain in the NHL, although had decent enough skating and a heavy shot to play on the power play. His lack of interest in the physical game was his most glaring deficiency. He was a quiet leader who wasn't always noticed by the fans, but highly appreciated by his teammates and coaches.

Ledyard was never expected to be much of a NHLer. The Winnipeg born defender left the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades after not being drafted by the NHL, opting to return to the Fort Garry Blues where he was already a legend. While the move may have seemed unusual for an aspiring player, it worked handsomely for Ledyard as he had a monstrous season, and impressing a scout of the New York Rangers. The Rangers agreed to offer Ledyard a contract with the intention of playing him with their minor league affiliate in Tulsa.

A bit of a late-bloomer, Ledyard's play improved exponentially. After two and a half seasons in the minor leagues Ledyard exceeded most of the Rangers' brass' expectations by playing in 42 games, scoring 8 goals and 20 points.

Ledyard cracked the Rangers lineup directly from training camp, but by December was traded to Los Angeles. The Kings were a very weak team in the mid 1980s, and Ledyard was perhaps mis-cast as an offensive rearguard. By 1988 he was shipped to Washington where he returned to a lesser and more comfortable role.

At the trading deadline in 1989, the Capitals sent Ledyard north to Buffalo where he enjoyed the next 4 seasons. In Buffalo he emerged as a bonafide NHLer. He earned rave reviews for his maturation on the ice as he became a credible top four defender with the Sabres for 240 games.

Injuries plagued Ledyard in his final two years in Buffalo, which led to the decision by the Sabres not to re-sign Ledyard when he became a free agent in 1993. The Dallas Stars astutely signed the veteran. Ledyard responded with a career year, scoring 9 goals and 46 points in a full 84 game schedule. Ledyard formed an especially effective tandem with Mark Tinordi. Ledyard never approached those offensive numbers again, but remained a valuable veteran presence for the Stars over the next three years.

In 1997-98 Ledyard was making a good impression in Vancouver before Mike Keenan became the head coach. Ledyard was one of the first players Keenan shipped out. It marked the beginning of Ledyard's vagabond days, toiling with the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning twice.

Ledyard retired with 1028 games played, 90 goals, and 366 points.

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